#11 Flamenco Show in Spain

8 Aug

I can’t believe that I’m 30! How did this happen? I feel like I went to bed one night as a 26-year-old and woke up as a 30-year-old!

Celebrating my 30th away from my family and friends back home in Australia was difficult, but luckily I have an amazing boyfriend who whisked me off to Barcelona for a long weekend to drink as much sangria and eat as much tapas as my heart desired.

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While in Barcelona, one thing that was on our ‘must do’ list was going to a Flamenco show – And what an experience it was! The men and women were so passionate about the whole performance¬†and really gave it everything that they had. I was desperate to take photos and videos of the whole show, but sadly we weren’t allowed until the end, to avoid distraction for the performers and audience. Luckily we had five minutes at the end where all the performers came on stage for a group ending. My photos aren’t great, which is really frustrating, but you’ll get the idea. They just moved too quickly for my poor little Canon point-and-shoot camera!

A huge shout-out to Nick for organising this night for us while we were there – it was a complete surprise that we were doing this, on this night! One of many surprises he had for me that weekend ūüôā

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#15 Helicopter ride over Sydney

13 Nov

This was a fun one! I bought this helicopter ride for Nick for his 30th birthday and the timing worked well as we booked it for our last day in Sydney before the FINAL move. A lovely way to say goodbye to my beautiful home city! And the weather was perfect… it usually is in Sydney anyway.

We hired a Go Get car (as I sold my Peugeot in May) and at 8am we were off to Sydney airport. When we got there, there was no one else in the office – YES! We weren’t sharing the helicopter with any other groups!

After watching a safety video and signing our life away we were taken out to a tiny helicopter. It was honestly about the size of a car! Nick sat in the front (as it was his gift!) and I sat in the back, which had just as good of a view.

Taking off felt strangely smooth. I’m so used to taking off in huge A380 or 737 and feeling the vibration along the runway. In a helicopter you simply lift off the floor. I know that seems obvious but it hadn’t occurred to me until then that it would be so flawless. The same goes for the flight. We both felt like we were just driving in a car in the sky. Very surreal.

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A quick two minutes in the sky and we were already approaching the city and looking down on the skyscrapers as if they were matchsticks and the people as if they were ants. We passed our apartment and I felt a little emotional knowing that it was going to be the last time we saw it from the outside.

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Over the tall city buildings and then through Sydney Harbour. The Sydney Harbour Bridge on our left and Opera House on our right… Sydney sparkled like a diamond. Almost as if it knew we were leaving that day.

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Then next we passed over the suburb where I grew up – Mosman. We flew all around the bays and beaches and it was lovely to see my part of the world from above. Next we went out to Manly Beach and came back into Sydney Harbour then made our way over to Bondi Beach.

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With over 100 beaches in Sydney, there are too many that we passed over to name, but they all looked beautiful. Before we knew it we were passing over Maroubra Beach and heading back south to the airport. The 20 minutes had gone by so quickly and we didn’t want it to end, but definitely glad we did this activity in Sydney of all cities. It truly is the most naturally beautiful city in the world!

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#6 Snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef

9 Nov

During our stay on Hamilton Island we had a day to relax on the beach and just generally laze about. We spent a bit of time on Catseye Beach and noticed that you could hire snorkel gear for the day.

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For $15 each Nick and I both hired a snorkel, mask and fins and made our way out to two orange buoys about a hundred metres out. The buoy on the left is where you could apparently see turtles and the one on the right was swarmed with fish around coral.

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It was quite shallow most of the way out and took a while to get all the way out there, but it was definitely worth it. We headed out to the right and eventually came across quite a small patch of coral but was filled with beautiful colourful groper and angel fish.

We then decided to try our luck at finding a turtle. Not far from the first buoy Nick signaled for me to look down and there one was! A huge turtle slowly walking along the white sand on the ocean floor! Sadly we didn’t have an underwater camera (Note to self: MUST buy a GoPro!) but he looked something like the below photo, and he was HUGE!

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We didn’t have much luck once we reached the other orange buoy. We swam around for a while and after finding nothing we decided to head in. After powering into the shore with our fins, Nick popped his head up and pointed down again. Another huge turtle! He was so fast that he was out of sight after only a few seconds and Nick tells me that he almost collided with it underwater.

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Nick then spent the next few hours laughing at my mask marks on my face. Ha!

#1 Ride a jet ski

8 Nov

We have just got back from a fantastic two weeks in Australia. Two weeks of sunshine and warm weather! Living in Australia allows you to have an extremely active and outdoor lifestyle – something that I’m already missing in London. However, Sydney will be the last thing on my mind when Nick and I are spending the weekend in Prague or Venice!

For Nick’s 30th birthday we decided to book a long weekend on Hamilton Island which is just off the Great Barrier Reef and it was perfect. 30 degrees every day, clear aqua water, great restaurants and a beautiful apartment with reef views.

When you stay on Hamilton Island you can be as relaxed or active as you like. There are endless day trips around the Great Barrier Reef, scuba diving tours, snorkeling tours, kayak hire, boat hire and our favourite… jet ski hire!

We hired two jet skis, one driven by Nick and one by Dave (Nick’s Dad). I was on the back of Nick’s which was probably for the best as it turned out to be quite an upper body workout! Also at $220 per jet ski for an hour tour around the island we would have been broke!

After a fairly short briefing of hand safety signals and how to drive the jet ski (apparently full throttle is the best way to drive!) we were off on a game of follow the leader. Nick and I were first in line as we were the only jet ski with two people on on this tour.

We were both pretty surprised about the speed and power of these machines… at first you feel like you are going to fly off but you get used to it and learn to hold on tight. It is quite an exhilarating experience and we reached an average of about 50 – 55kms/h. Doesn’t sound like much but out on the water it feels like double this. Especially when you hit the waves of passing boats. In some areas around the island the water was so choppy that we were getting air every couple of seconds. Made me wish I wasn’t wearing a strapless bikini!

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To be honest, I’m not sure that I would have been able to control the jet ski under those conditions so I was impressed with Nick’s ability to keep it on the right path and not throw us off… until…

Half way through the tour we rotated positions and we were last in the line. Following the path and wash of eight jet skis wasn’t easy! Nick was able to correct an almost out-of-control jet ski a few times. It couldn’t have been easy with me as an extra weight on the back! Unfortunately (but in hindsight it was kinda fun) we had a guy in front who decided to quickly snake his jet ski for the last 10 minutes of the tour causing a huge amount of small waves for us. We did eventually come off as it is impossible to stay straight… however, the water in north Queensland is about 25 degrees so quite pleasant! It is easy to climb back up on them and off we went and shortly back into the marina.

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It was definitely worth the experience. I’m glad I wasn’t driving and I’m not sure the 12 year minimum age for drivers is high enough but maybe kids have less fear than us 30 year olds and don’t mind flying off at high speed!

If you’re ever visiting Hamilton Island we would recommend doing this activity… or anywhere actually! Just remember to hold on tight or prepare to get wet!

#9 Brooklyn Bridge (take two)

17 Oct

Nick’s 30th is fast approaching and I feel like our list is just treading water. We haven’t crossed anything off in a few months now. We had snowboarding lessons and a helicopter ride booked for our trip to Queenstown in June… but as many of you know, we never got on that flight and long story short, that was the very start of the reason why we are now living in London! Thankfully we have until late March to complete everything!

So to make myself feel a little more productive, I’m going to post a take two of #9 – Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge.

In transition to London, Nick and I met in NYC for 10 days. Would you believe that the first time we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge together, we didn’t actually get a photo of the two of us. This time we crossed the bridge during the day and it was a beautiful 30 degrees – maybe a little too hot for Nick!

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#27 Get upgraded on a flight

4 Aug

To be honest, this is one that I never thought would happen, but it is probably one of the ones that I wanted the most. Nick doesn’t really understand what the big deal is, but us Australians are so passionate about our travel and go such long distances to get there that it is like winning the lottery. The travel lottery. You see, a business class return ticket from Sydney to London will cost you about USD 10,000 (Damn Australia’s thriving economy and high salaries).

Nick and I are in the process of moving to London. He has already made the move and I still have a few weeks in Sydney to tie up a few loose ends. Following our recent Italian holiday in July, we had to part at Rome Fiumicino airport. On top of an emotional goodbye, I had a long 26 hours in transit. In economy. The farewell was difficult, but I’m sure a few of those tears were in sympathy for the pain my neck and back would endure in a chair more uncomfortable than a concrete bench.

By the time I walked back to my check-in gate (after saying goodbye) my face must have looked like a thousand bees had stung it. Puffy and red-eyed I was still sniffling a little bit. The lady behind the counter obviously took pity on me because she lent forward and whispered those magic words “Miss Davies, Emirates would be privileged to upgrade you to business class for your journey”.

I’ve flown business class once before, so I knew what a brilliant result this was.

Priority boarding! Glass of Veuve Clicquot upon arrival! A flat bed to sleep in! For 26 hours!

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Emirates offers a full menu with celebrity chef created meals. A fantastic wine and liquor selection and a full cocktail menu. Feel like a mojito 35,000ft in the air? Not a problem. Another glass of Veuve? Don’t mind if I do!

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Who wants to balance their head on a blow-up travel pillow when you get to rest your head, horizontally, on a plush full size cloud!

Even though this wasn’t something that happened together, Nick told me that his flight from London to Rome was up the front of the plane in a larger chair than usual… so I’m counting that as an upgrade to business class also ūüėČ

Moral of the story is, if you aren’t going with the honeymoon story for an upgrade… just shed a few tears, and you never know!

#9 Brooklyn Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge

21 May

Not much of an explanation needed here… they’re on the list and we crossed them back in August 2012.

We crossed the Brooklyn Bridge after an AMAZING dinner at River Cafe in Brooklyn. The restaurant had an amazing view of the NYC skyline so it was the perfect ending to a fantastic dinner!

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The day that we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, it was absolutely freezing and neither of us had packed a warm for the trip. San Francisco was surprisingly cool for Summer. We wanted to ride bikes over the bridge and into the town on the other side but the weather was so awful that we opted for a hop-on-hop-off tour bus and froze all the way over and back on the rooftop!

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#14 Napa Valley wine tour

21 May

We actually did this one a while back in August 2012 during our trip to the United States. The Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Tour was definitely a highlight of our time in San Francisco. It was wine tasting for beginners but offered more than just a few vineyards, Chardonnays and a bucket to spit into. You meet the bus down at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco and you get a scenic day tour all the way to the vineyards with a running commentary.

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Our bus driver was quite entertaining and was filled with interesting facts on towns and landmarks as we drove past them. I’m positive that he didn’t take a breath for the whole journey. Non-stop talking. Seriously. Most people slept the majority of the journey there, which I found disappointing (for them), but not everyone loves travel as much as we do.

The quality of the vineyards varied, as did the wine. Some vineyards were beautiful with average wine and some had beautiful wine with average vineyards.

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The guides at each vineyard varied with their knowledge and enthusiasm to educate us all but we did walk away with a little more knowledge than when we arrived. What was our biggest learning from the tour? ‚ÄúThe bolder the (bottle) shoulder, the bolder the wine!‚ÄĚ

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I don’t think that I would recommend this wine tour to anyone that knows a bit about wine… however, it is perfect for beginners (like us) or anyone that just wants to visit the area.

#5 Become Certified Scuba Divers

3 Apr

The previous item that we crossed off our list¬†involved going 14,000ft in the air. So it made sense to check out what is down below for our next activity. Scuba diving involves quite a bit of preparation before you can submerge. It is recommended (but apparently not essential) that you get a diving medical and there is quite a bit of theory to study. We found the study element particularly¬†difficult¬†as we can’t even go though a five minute ad break without saying something to each other!!

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The main purpose of the medical is to test your lung capacity and your balance through your ears. Nick had no problem getting his ears checked. I on the other hand had a Madame Tussauds open for business in my ear canals and needed an ear flush. Mortifying.

We ended up becoming SDI certified over a three day course which will allow us to dive anywhere in the world to 18 meters underwater. Next stop, Great Barrier Reef!

The course consisted of:

  • a day of theory with an exam
  • a day of confined water diving to get used to the diving equipment and underwater communication
  • a day of open water diving and skills

After completing the course you can understand why there is so much involved in becoming certified. You are completely reliant on your equipment and a small error in your pre-dive checks can result in a complication. Anything from your air tank running out or your weight belt coming off and rising to the surface too quickly and tearing a lung.

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Your equipment is quite heavy and it is a relief when you get in the water and take the weight off your body. Especially if there is a distance to get to the water. I always thought that you just jumped in the water and swam down with ease and you had a tube to suck air through a tank. That’s how it looks in the movies! No one mentioned equalizing, safety stops, regulator checks, weight belts, purging, decompression sickness and nitrogen narcosis (however, that last one could be kinda funny!).

Its all worth it though! It is incredibly peaceful down there. You almost feel as though you are in slow motion and the only thing you can really hear is your breath. Schools of fish dance past you and there are endless areas to explore and fish to admire near rocks and in caves. I think its safe to say that we will be scuba diving again in the near future!

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30 March 2013 – 1 April 2013

#3 Skydiving!

21 Mar

When people ask you what it feels like to jump out of a plane and plummet towards earth at 200kms/h… you can’t really describe the feeling. You can’t find the words. Most people assume it’s like being on a descending roller-coaster for 60 seconds. It isn’t. At all. Imagine yourself floating over a large industrial size fan. You don’t feel gravity… all you feel is the wind on your face and the pressure in your ears. You have no concept of falling apart from the terrifying fact that the ground appears to be getting closer. Your screams are hardly heard and your whole life rests in the hands of someone who is strapped onto your back. Its absolutely exhilarating!

When answering the first asked questions “So, what was it like? Was it scary?”, my honest answer is that the plane ride is scarier than jumping out. You’re in a tiny tin plane with nine or so others and you’re all sitting on the floor being deafened by the single engine struggling to get you all up to 14,000ft… and gusts of wind are not this plane’s friend!

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The relief when you feel when that parachute pulls you to a more civilized speed makes you want to kiss the ground. How ironic! You’ve still got a long way to go. Thankfully the rest of the descent is a peaceful and scenic float back down to earth.

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It is truly the most surreal thing that you will do in your life. We would recommend this to anyone that is open to doing it. It is worth every single dollar that you pay… and as you can see, you MUST get the photos and DVD.

Hey, if my Mum could do it at 50, you can too!

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We organised our jump through Skydive the Beach in Wollongong, NSW, Australia.


15 February 2013